Another Filipina is responsible for putting Pinoy resilience and determination on the map

Filipinos can celebrate another global victory as elite triathlete Joyette Jopson overcame the odds and conquered the grueling 42-kilometer FWD ‘78° North’ Marathon held near the North Pole on Apr. 16.

Jopson becomes the first Filipina to run a marathon in the Arctic, enduring the freezing temperatures of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, just 1,050 kilometers away from the North Pole. The 2014 Ironman 70.3 Philippines Filipino elite champion and FWD financial wealth officer completed the race in 4:10:59 to claim a first-place finish in the women’s category and third overall.

Jopson was the lone Philippine representative in the marathon where was joined by FWD Team Asia runners from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand.

“We ran on a mix of ice and roads covered with ice, which was very slippery. I learned that you can overheat even in cold races so I had to take out a layer on top and bottom because I got uncomfortable after 10 kilometers. After the race, it took me more than an hour to warm up because it was really freezing.”

Part of her training included working with established athletes like Romi Garduce, Margielyn Didal, and Carmela Pearson, who each played a role in her journey to the north.

“For the whole journey FWD wanted me to have a squad that would act as a support group and it was important to me because I was going there by myself,” says Jopson.

“Romi is an accomplished athlete who conquered the Seven Summits and I was going somewhere where the conditions I had never gone to but he has. He was very helpful in recommending the proper gear to bring and what to do in certain situations. Margielyn, I was inspired by her. I saw parallels between us as far as not having a place to train. It never stopped her from going for her goal which was truly inspiring. Carmela, meanwhile, is a good friend and was truly a big help in so many ways.”

“In spite of the challenges, I am delighted to have brought the Filipino pride to the Arctic and of course, I am even happier to have performed well, placing first in the women’s category,” adds Jopson.

FWD had been supporting the annual North Pole Marathon, dubbed as the ‘world’s coolest marathon,’ but it was cancelled at the last minute because of geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine regarding flight plans to the North Pole.

FWD then organized its own run called the FWD ‘78°North’ Marathon. The marathon was held at Longyearbyen, part of the Arctic Circle, to allow the runners to fulfill their ambitions to complete a marathon in sub-zero temperatures and extreme winter conditions while raising funds for their sponsored charities.